Voice 1/5: On Tradition
An Art in General International Collaboration
August 28, 7–9 PM
Art in General and Swimming Pool (Sofia, Bulgaria) present Voice 1/5: On Tradition, a performance work by Snejanka Mihaylova. This New Commission is curated by Viktoria Draganova as part of Art in General’s International Collaborations Program and marks the artist’s first-ever performance in New York.
Mihaylova’s practice investigates the intersection of philosophy, performance, and agency. It reflects on the relation between interior thought and exteriorized voice to consider how knowledge is created and circulated. Voice 1/5: On Tradition is the first part of Mihaylova’s long-term research centered on three female saints considered in juxtaposition to contemporary notions of feminism, radicalism, and nationalism. Using her own voice, Mihaylova activates a vocalization of the subjectivities of these remarkable female figures that are typically limited to text and score-based representations. The work is invested in an aural practice that is political and proposes an experiential understanding in the context of the Christian Orthodox musical tradition. Opening up questions around how history and tradition are employed in contemporary culture, a close reading of a female saint’s vita is accompanied by a piano performance by the artist. Posters created in collaboration with designer Dima Stefanova are distributed to the audience as a visualized version of music theory, systematizing a knowledge that, for thousands of years, has mainly circulated in oral form.
Across all her work, Mihaylova is interested in the relationship between written text and the voice as exteriorized through sound. Her 2015 book Acoustic Thought, commissioned and published by If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution in Amsterdam, explores the relationship between reading and writing that was central to the development of The Bible as a cohesive text. As it was initially formulated as a collection of oral histories, Mihaylova argues that this text was created by listeners, not by writers. It is from this place of dissonance between reading and writing that the artist engages her ethics of the act of listening and embodied performance. With Voice 1/5: On Tradition the transmission and embodiment of sound between bodies present in the performance space, the voice, and the acoustic instrument are central to the work. Through an attention to the physicality of sound and its affects, Mihaylova reveals a notion of a “collective subjecthood” that brings an acoustic practice to bear on the very space of the art institution—experimenting with a potential for institutional practice to create cognitive and sensorial resonance that deeply engages its audiences in its call for collective thought.
Snejanka Mihaylova’s (b. Sofia, 1978) practice is located at the intersection of philosophy and performance, thinking and theatre. Mihaylova holds a degree in philosophy of language and hermeneutics from the University of Florence, Italy (1996–2001). Mihaylova has also been trained in theatre studies and completed a master’s degree in theatre at DasArts, Amsterdam (2009–2011). In 2012, she was a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. Her work Theatre of Thought, for which she published an eponymous book, has been performed in several locations in Europe, including De Hallen in Haarlem (2011). In 2012 she published the book Practical Training in Thinking and led a seminar in dialogue with Mladen Dolar at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. She has collaborated with If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to Be part of Your Revolution and took part in the group exhibition curated by Sohrab Mohhebi, Hotel Theory, at Redcat in Los Angeles. She was recently main tutor at the master programme the Master of Voice at Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam.
Swimming Pool is an art project space in Sofia, Bulgaria focused on research, collaborative approaches, art education and art community politics. It is located on a central rooftop with an empty pool built in the 1930’s. It organizes exhibitions, events and discussions to support Bulgarian art locally and abroad while opening up the local context to international artists, curators, and writers to create a space for joint thinking located on the periphery. Since the founding of the space in 2014, Viktoria Draganova organizes its artistic program.
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General Support of Art in General is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation; Trust for Mutual Understanding; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; National Endowment for the Arts; Visegrad Fund and FUTURA; Greenwich Collection; Cowles Charitable Trust; Milton and Sally Avery Foundation; Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.